When parents are demanding to have a 1:1 paraprofessional for their child, I ask them to take a step back and be open to thinking about other ways to resolve the situation at school.
If we get stuck on only wanting a 1:1 paraprofessional, we are only looking at the tip of the iceberg. We need to understand what’s lies below. It’s important to realize the underlying need that we are really trying to have met.
For example, I once had a parent tell me her son needed a full time 1:1 paraprofessional. I asked her what she wanted the para to help her son with. After a few minutes of conversation she said the thing she was most worried about was her son getting through the opening in the playground fence and running off.
Now, as a mom I could certainly identify with the fear of parents, of someone not watching my child close enough and having him take off. We talked about what could be done to make the playground safer – talk to principal about having the maintenance department enclose the opening in the fence, having an extra adult on playground duty. She decided to talk to the principal and see what could be done about the opening.
Her tip of the iceberg was she wanted her son to have a full time 1:1 paraprofessional. Once we talked more we identified her underlying fear, she was scared about her son leaving the school grounds. The need was for her son to be safe when outside for recess.
Yes, having a 1:1 paraprofessional on the playground just to watch her son might be one possible solution. But you would want to make sure it was a para that could run fast and intercept her son before he slid through the opening in the playground fence. She and the principal were able to sit down and talk about the safety issue and it was resolved with the closing of the playground fence.
Just be aware that there may be another way for your child to be safe, happy, and learning at school.